MAHAFFEY — Underneath a “No Dumping by orders of the Clearfield County Solid Waste Authority” sign along Cecil Hurd Highway/state Route 36 in Bell Township, volunteers were busy Monday afternoon hauling loads of rubbish up a steep embankment.
The dump, full of clothing, plumbing supplies including a stall shower unit and tires, is near picturesque Chest Creek — an approved trout fishing waterway prized by anglers.
Clearfield County Solid Waste Enforcement Officer Agatha Lauder-English, who was hired as the CCDWA’s part-time officer in January, told The Progress the Bell Township site is one of the most severe of the 15 dump sites located throughout Clearfield County.
Those sites are scheduled to be rectified this week by volunteers and municipal officials donating both equipment and manpower.
The other sites are located in Cooper, Decatur, Pike, Lawrence, Boggs and Brady townships.
“It’s definitely one of the worst locations. It appears to me that someone emptied out a house and dumped it here. There’s art supplies and baby clothes –some of it new and still in packages that were not even opened,” she said.
English said she found the site a number of months ago when she spotted a piece of green garden hose snaking its way from a pull-off spot along the highway towards the waterway. “I thought, ‘Why would there be a garden hose here, especially during the winter?’”
Upon further investigation, English found the dump. She estimated once all was done Monday, there would be approximately three truckloads of garbage — mostly things that could have been recycled or repurposed.
“It amazes me,” English said, speaking of why people would choose to dump these items along highways and waterways where they can put both residents and wildlife at risk as well as spoiling the county’s pristine beauty, rather than take them to the CCSWA’s recycling site at the Clearfield County Jail or other agencies that accept good used items.
As part of her budget, English said she rented a 31-yard container to put the debris collected during the cleanup in. Budgeted funds will be used to legally dispose of the items.
While English and the volunteers are cleaning up, they are also looking for names in the debris on mail, receipts or bills. English said any names found in the debris would be investigated. If a name is found to be feasible, English said the offenders either have to clean up the site they have dumped at or remove the mess at another site.
English said she finds often people who illegally dump items do so because they believe they can’t afford to dispose of them.
English said if she files a complaint for illegal dumping with the district magisterial court, fines can be as high as $1,000.
She said residents who need help in disposing of items should contact the Clearfield County Solid Waste Department at 765-5149 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and obtain information about available resources.
Director Jodi Brennan said, “I would remind folks it is better to do the right thing. If you don’t know how to properly dispose of something give us a call. We will gladly help. While proper disposal can cost you money, it’s nowhere as expensive as the fines you could be issued for illegally dumping your trash.”